The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is a long, thin, shallow body of water running from the Lincoln Memorial at one end to the National World War II Memorial at the other. It has been scene of some of Washington’s most memorable events of the last century or so, perhaps most famously Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I Have a Dream” speech as part of the 1963 March on Washington, a pivotal moment in the American civil rights movement.
Because it’s so shallow, it gets calm quickly, providing a mirror-like, smooth surface. It is particularly effective at night, when the smooth surface of the water provides a sharp reflection for the lights on the monuments at either end.
Photographer Friendliness Rating
The Reflecting Pool is accessible at any time of the day or night and tripods are allowed. There’s plenty of room at either end to set up a tripod at water level. There are no restrictions on using a flash, although it’s hard to imagine flash being especially useful unless you’re doing some light painting.
If you want to take best advantage of the reflections at night, a tripod or some other kind of solid support is a must. You can’t use a tripod on the main steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but there are plenty of places below that and at the other end where you can use one.Scaffolding Alert! From October 2010 to September 2012, the Reflecting Pool underwent a major renovation. It is now complete, and the Reflecting Pool is again open for business. See the page on the Reflecting Pool Renovations for further details.
Commercial shoots and filming may require a permit.
Photos of the Reflecting Pool
The best way to get to the Reflecting Pool is by Metro. The closest stops are Foggy Bottom (0.8 miles) (Orange and Blue lines), Smithsonian (1.1. miles) (Orange line), Arlington National Cemetery (0.9 miles) (Blue line), or Federal Triangle (1.4 miles) (Orange line). Metro has a handy Trip Planner and here’s a map of the Metro lines.
There isn’t any parking immediately next to the Reflecting Pool, but depending on time of day and how busy it is, it might be possible to find parking along Constitution Avenue. But make careful note of the signs to make sure you don’t get towed. There’s often parking on the southern side of the Reflecting Pool on the waterfront of West Potomac Park all the way out along Hains Point.